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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who withdrew the nomination before the vote. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) withdrew President Trump’s nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just moments before his candidacy was set for a confirmation vote on Thursday due to racially insensitive past writings.

Why it matters: The move is a major win for Democrats and a blow to the GOP's ongoing transformation of the federal bench with young, conservative judges at a near-unprecedented pace.

The details: McConnell made his decision after some Republicans signaled their opposition due to Bounds’ past writings that denigrated multiculturalism and race-focused groups and questioned the value of cultural sensitivity training, per the Washington Post.

How it happened: Sources familiar with the matter told Politico's Burgess Everett that McConnell made the decision after Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African-American member of Senate GOP conference, flagged Bounds’ past writings to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who sided with Scott against the nominee. Scott then met with McConnell to voice his concerns and GOP lunch, which prompted other Republicans to help sink the nomination, per Politico.

  • However, Democrats had long opposed Bounds, who would have been Trump’s 24th Circuit Court nominee. At a contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, he apologized for some of his undergrad writings and told Democratic lawmakers that his rhetoric was “overheated” at the time, WashPost said.
  • Advancing a judicial nomination in the Senate only requires a simple majority. All 49 Senate Democrats had voted Wednesday to block Bounds' nomination, while 50 Republicans moved to advance it (except for Sen. John McCain, who's absent). But by Thursday morning, the nomination didn't have the votes to pass.

Flashback: This is not the first judicial pick from Trump to have his nomination pulled over controversial records. Last year, the White House was forced to drop the nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer over past controversial remarks.

  • In a speech on religion and homosexuality, Mateer said transgender children are part of "Satan's plan" and advocated for gay conversion.
  • Talley had been criticized for a blog post he wrote about Barack Obama and gun control following the Sandy Hook shooting. And in a 2011 online post, he defended “the first KKK.”

Go deeper: How Trump is reshaping the courts.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Updated 30 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.